Investment scams in Nigeria usually start with the line: “Do you want to double your money in 24-48 hours?” You may come across a social media ad or a video of an influencer telling you how remarkable and profitable a particular ‘investment platform’ is. You may even be added to WhatsApp or Telegram groups with – or without – your consent. This is where you see tons of ‘testimonials’ from people who became millionaires overnight.
All those claims are created to achieve one goal: scam you out of your money. Unfortunately, greedy folks have fallen prey to these scams, and many have even lost their life savings to these fraudsters. This would have been avoided if they had just educated themselves about some of the most common scams.
In 2020, the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System Plc (NIBSS) reported that 5.2 billion naira was lost to fraud in the banking sector.
Nevertheless, if you’re reading this, it simply means you want to learn more about the popular scams in Nigeria and how you can avoid them. This is important as many have committed suicide upon discovering they were scammed.
Here are a few, arranged in no specific order:
Online casino Scams in Nigeria
This is a form of scam prevalent in fake online casinos. In some cases, fraudsters set up a phishing website to collect sensitive data such as debit card digits, names, addresses, etc. In other cases, players are promised large amounts of money when they sign up. When players sign up and perhaps even “win” some rewards, they soon realize it was all a scam.
How to avoid
When looking for the best online casinos in Nigeria, make sure you first check out websites that offer trusted source of information to decipher which ones are reputable. Confirm that an online casino is licensed before signing up or providing any information. Don’t be deceived by testimonies. Some of those testimonies are untrue. Get a virtual card if you must give them a try.
Read the terms and conditions of every offer you see online.
Employment scam: cloning a website
This is one of the most popular scams that keep surfacing continuously in Nigeria. The fraudsters usually start by cloning a particular – and trusted/reliable – website, which often belongs to a government agency. Then the fraudsters drive online traffic massively to the cloned site via social media platforms, WhatsApp broadcasts, etc.
When you land on the cloned site, you will be asked to fill in your details. This often includes highly sensitive ones such as bank information. This is the information the scammers need to compromise your bank account.
How to avoid this
Nigeria’s unemployment rate is high, and this scam quickly gets to job seekers. But you can avoid such developments by confirming the URL of the site and asking for sensitive information.
Go online to find out when that site’s domain name was registered. If the registration is very recent, high chances are that you’re about to be scammed.
Secondly, those websites are not secured by SSL encryption. Most fraudsters don’t like to spend too much to create a façade. But if the website is not encrypted, that is a red flag.
Card skimming fraud
In this case, the scammer uses a skimming device on an actual debit card. This usually happens at bugged ATMs (automated teller machines) or point of sale (POS). The skimming device steals unsuspecting owners’ sensitive personal information, such as their personal identification numbers (PIN), card numbers, etc.
In another case, they install a pinhole camera at an inconspicuous spot in the ATM gallery or POS shop. The camera captures how unsuspecting individuals enter their personal identification numbers to access their accounts.
After the fraudster gets the details, they start running transactions on that bank account. Your bank will not suspect a thing as it will appear as if you are the person carrying out those transactions.
How to avoid
Do not use your debit card at new POS shops until they have built a good reputation. Avoid using the automated teller machines at night. Be alert and use your debit cards only at designated and trusted bank galleries with security personnel and cameras.
The wealthy family scam
This is considered one of the oldest online scams, but people still fall for it daily. Someone from a supposedly wealthy family from another West African country, India, or even the United States, reaches out to you for help.
They need someone to help them move their fortune out of their country of origin. So they promise to wire huge sums, often in millions of dollars, and an offer you can’t refuse: a 60/40 split.
However, they will humbly request that you cover some of the fees required to complete the transaction or transfer funds from a foreign account to your location. But this will never happen: you will only end up sending funds, by your own hand, to the scammers, and they will never contact you again.
How to avoid
The details shared in the previous paragraphs should help you recognize such emails instantly. Then, delete them or send such messages to your spam folder.
The offers are tempting, but they are always a scam. So, please don’t fall for it when you receive such emails/SMSs.
Romance or dating scam is another popular scam in Nigeria. The scammer poses as a potential love partner or date online with one sole aim: to connect with lovesick individuals or older people looking for companionship.
The scammer signs up on an authentic dating platform and uploads a very attractive picture of someone else, not their own picture. Only in very few cases do they use their own pictures on dating platforms. Instead, they fill out their profiles with fake information, an action known as ‘catfishing.’
Then they send out love propositions to unsuspecting individuals. Romance scammers are usually very patient and work on their victims until trust is established or earned.
The next phase of the operation involves solicitations for money or other valuable items like laptops, Apple smartphones, electronic gadgets, etc. They also ask their love interest to donate to a charitable cause they seemingly care about. But everything is false: the victim sends their hard-earned cash to personal bank accounts.
They may even ask for intimate images, which they turn around and use to blackmail their ‘love interest’ when things are about to go south.
How to avoid
If you need to use a dating service or platform, ensure you always check, double-check, and triple-check everything. Do not be hasty in anything: ask someone you trust about your love interest. Chances are they may have a previous experience to share, which will save you from the hands of romance scammers in Nigeria.
Lastly, do not transfer any money, gift card, cash reload card, etc., to an online love interest for any reason. You will never get a dime back.
There is never a get-rich-quick-overnight scheme that actually works. Instead, such an endeavor requires and demands hard work. Part of this work includes performing due diligence to ensure your money goes to the right place.
But do people in Nigeria ever learn? Many more scams will spring up. However, you know how they work and how to avoid them. If any glowing claims sound too good to be true, they probably are. So, proceed with extreme caution.